arts & crafts furniture and mysterious castle carvings – just two of the reasons to brave the weather and explore Cumbria’s hidden past this winter.
English Heritage has taken on a tough task – to encourage local people to exchange their comfortable Victorian balloon back dining chairs for the Cumbrian history hiding on their doorsteps. Despite the wintery weather, the charity’s properties are open throughout January. What is more, there’s a whole programme of activities and events designed to show familiar sites like Birdoswald Roman Fort and Carlisle Castle in a whole new light.
A hike along Hadrian ’s Wall in the snow can be great fun – for those who are well wrapped up. At Birdoswald, visitors can discover how Romans kept warm by patrolling the longest continuous stretch of Hadrian’s Wall existing today, before warming up with a mug of hot soup in the tearoom.
A little less remote and windswept – though equally fascinating – is Carlisle Castle, which currently has a fascinating exhibition in the newly reopened Captain’s Tower, a military museum, and several rooms displaying antique dining tables and other furniture. In February, visitors will also get the chance to learn the truth about the mysterious stone carvings on the walls.
Blackwell House is the Victorian interpretation of Tudor gothic. Although not owned by English Heritage, it is also open all year. It is a treat for those interested in Arts & Crafts furniture.
Cumbrian residents can also find Victorian oak pedestal desks and antique chests at their local antiques dealer – to admire or take home.
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